You will never know the incredible joy and thrill that knowledge about your heritage and family will give you, until you try! Let me help you answer those questions that you may or may not have about your unique heritage and family history --your ancestral roots. It's a path and a journey, and a fascinating one at that! Each of us has our very own story and history. Let me help you find those pieces of YOUR family puzzle so that you can understand your heritage and where you came from -- you never know where the clues will take you until you try!
With more than 22 years of experience in genealogy research, writing family histories, connecting families and facilitating reunions, Find Your Family! can help you on your quest. I've helped dozens and dozens of folks over the years, changing lives forever.
Site under construction, August 2012.
Find Your Family! was started in 2003 by Marilyn L. Arnold, a Maine native, now living in the Washington, DC area. Marilyn has a B.S. and M.P.S. from Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, and has also lived in Aspen/Snowmass Village, Colorado. She started doing her own family genealogy in 1990 when she lived 1.5 blocks from the Library of Congress and walking distance to the National Archives and DAR National Library -- a genealogist's dream. She has taken genealogy courses and seminars from the Smithsonian Institution, the New England Historic and Genealogical Society, the National Genealogy Society, the Fairfax Genealogy Society, the Maryland Historical Society, and other local universities and colleges.
Marilyn has written dozens of genealogies, including a set of two totalling nearly 750 pages. She has helped dozens and dozens of people find family members (half siblings, birth parents, lost relatives, etc.). She has organized family reunions and is experienced in genealogy tourism (taking families to places of origin and showing them historic sites specific to their family like churches, cemeteries, homes and lands associated with the family, etc.)
She has taught introductory seminars to the Cornell Club of Washington and the Harvard Club of Washington. In addition, she has been mentioned in the Wall Street Journal, the Selma Times-Journal, and the Washington Post.
In her spare time, she loves walking on the beach, gardening, reading, and spending time with friends and family.
TESTIMONIALS & SUCCESS STORIES
“After your call to my 85-year old mother, she practically bolted through my backdoor,
flinging the door open to tell me the news! I hadn’t seen my mother move that fast -- in years!
She was so excited!!! She just couldn’t wait to tell me that a long-lost cousin had called her
to share family stories! Thank you, thank you for helping us find one another!
(62-year old woman, Atlanta, GA, excited at finding her 2nd cousins)
“I always knew I had an older half-brother, but had no idea where or how to find him. With Marilyn’s help, I was on the phone to him that week, talking to him for the very first time. He first flew to Maine to meet me -- and his three other half-brothers and sisters! But, it was such a success that we’ve been
gathering, complete with children and grandchildren, every year since then! We’re all just thrilled”
(55 year-old woman, Falmouth, Maine)
“I lived in this town [Selma, Alabama] for 60 years of my life and didn’t know about so many of these things! What a treat to meet my extended family, see family photos and the old Bible,
and . . . learn some pretty interesting things about my family!”
(Great-great grandmother of 17, Hampton, GA, now a 3rd GGG grandmother!)
“This family journey has truly been beyond my wildest dreams! I’d given up hope of ever knowing anything about my grandfather or his family, and was resigned to this fact – until I met Marilyn.
Marilyn was convinced that she could find him so . . . off we went! Not only did she find out what happened to Grandpa Louie, she tracked down his family for me! And, she unified us at a “family union” when descendants of our grandparents (who were siblings in the 1850-70s), gathered together for the first time from seven states!” One night we all had dinner together at the home of one of my newly found cousins -- under the watchful eyes of Ed (1827 -1881) and Marion (1839 - 1918) Woods, our great-great grandparents, whose portraits hung on the wall. It was incredibly moving”
“This has been a journey of a lifetime, and I can’t wait for the next adventure!”
(“29 and counting”, Washington, DC)
And his mother’s response:
“Thank you, Marilyn! For as long as I can remember, my son, at every family gathering, would ask again, and again, about his grandfather’s family. I had never met him, and my husband never talked about him, so I didn’t have any answers! I felt terrible!
Thank goodness Marilyn found Louie and so much information on our family!
I don’t think I could bear to hear his very plaintiff question again –
“…. Mom -- Whatever happened to Louie?” …”
(Mother of three, 80, Chevy Chase, MD)
“Staying in the home in Montevallo where Grandma “Willie” lived was the highlight of the Alabama trip! I just could not believe that Marilyn found this B&B, now on the National Register of Historic Places, that my great-grandfather built about 1900. Marilyn pointed out that my father must have been born in this house in 1915! We never knew where he was born, so this was really exciting!
The owners shared with us a large collection of family pictures, letters and memorabilia,
and promised to connect us with others in the family!
What a wonderful and moving experience!”
(Couple, 50s, Frederick, MD)
“Many, many, thanks to Marilyn for all her efforts! She’s been formally “adopted”
as an honorary Woods family member. This would not have happened without her!”
(The Woods Family)
“This has been so exciting! Gathering with my newly found family for the first time was
quite an experience! We had such a great time finding our Alabama roots that we’re planning to visit the Texas sites related to our family next fall, including the Longhorn Caverns State Park, once owned by our relatives, where ammunition was made and stored during the Civil War! (And apparently where an outlaw or two hid!) This should be yet another interesting passage in our family quest!”
(Couple, 50s, Ellensburg, WA)
“My older [half] sisters . . . are still alive????”
“ . . .After my brothers and sister died, I thought I was the end of the family line.
I’m rarely speechless, but Marilyn’s call was astounding! I nearly fell off my chair when Marilyn told me my two older half-sisters were still alive! I always knew I had two older sisters from my Dad’s
first marriage, but did not know how to find them. I’m looking forward to meeting them in Maine this fall for the first time. I’m 75, and they are 85 and 87, so this is a wonderful gift!”
(75-year old woman, Upper Marlboro MD)
Her daughter-in-law’s comments:
“My mother-in-law has been so excited by Marilyn’s call that, she talked of little else -- for weeks.
She was so excited she couldn’t sleep!!!
And, the older half-sister:
“I always wanted to know what happened to my father, who left when I was three.
I assumed he had remarried, and that I might have brothers and sisters out there
-- somewhere …...
I was curious, but I’m in my 80s, didn’t have the energy or knowledge to know where to start.
What a surprise to hear, first, that my father had remarried, and had 2 sons, and 2 more daughters!
But when Marilyn called to say that one was still alive, and actually vacations each fall in Maine,
just 5 miles from where my sister and I have a home, I was shocked! My younger half-sister wrote me such a warm, touching letter. It must have been so very difficult for her to write it! But, it gave me great peace at knowing more about the father I never knew. Marilyn gave us pictures of our younger half-sister, and I’m excited and looking forward to meeting her this fall for the first time!
(80-year old woman, Reading MA)
“Thanks to Marilyn for getting me started on this adventure! Marilyn coached me in getting started, and I’ve been on this search since then, and have found much interesting
family information-- and family members! I’d been told stories that they had traveled
in covered wagons on the Cherokee Trail, but didn’t know that they lived in
the “Indian Territories” before it became Oklahoma!”
(30-ish woman, Manassas, VA)
“Fantastic! I am excited about what you are finding – this is most interesting!
We (my parents and I) enjoy your little inserts of excitement and look very much forward to seeing some new cuz'ns of my Dad’s Iowa (German) family – these new relatives you found for us!
(Woman 40s, Selma, AL)
“I’d looked and looked for years, without luck, but Marilyn provided the missing link
I needed to contact my birth family for the first time!”
(59-year old woman, adopted at birth, Dirwood, Maryland)
“ ….. NO!!!! …. [after about 45 long seconds of silence!] ….
Never heard THAT before ……!
[After being told that his grandfather had a first family in MN before leaving for Nevada and California.]
Now that's pretty interesting news!!
I’m having a grand time with all your news [about the family] . . . thanks for opening up the past!
It will be fun to get acquainted with heretofore unknown relatives!
This has been very exciting, and I want to thank you for helping us find each other!
You have created an entirely new dimension to my life!!”
(84-year old retired professor, Santa Barbara, CA)
Marilyn took me to the National Archives and coached me in starting my family research.
It’s been really interesting and I can’t wait to pick it up again!!
Last year, four generations of my family traveled together to visit my grandmother’s
home town in Ireland to explore family sites. It’s been great fun! So much fun that my 90+ year old grandma’s got me on an “assignment” now to start on her father’s line next …!
(38-year old woman, Alexandria, VA)
“I have been keeping the family tree for about 20 years now, using mainly living memory
and readily available documentation previously collected by family members.
While I've been able to accumulate over 1000 people this way, my Matheson name only went back a couple of generations. It has been a long-standing mystery,
especially since we had adopted the Scottish Matheson clan as our own!
Marilyn broke through the barrier and found a mother lode of great information.
My family does indeed come from Scotland, and now I can wear my kilt with pride!”
(D. Matheson, 50s, Palo Alto, CA)
“I was so grateful to Marilyn for compiling and distributing our family information. I’ve researched this family for years, but don’t type very fast anymore, nor do I have a computer. Marilyn pulled together the notes and documents I had provided to her, added her own research, and found living family members I didn’t even know existed. When the 70+ page family Davies history arrived in the mail, I was astounded – and so very pleased – it is a family story we can be proud of and share. After 50 years of researching this family, I’m so very grateful to know that someone in the next generation will carry this on.”
(90-year old woman, Tulare, CA)
“I just never knew where my first name [Worthington] came from. I was amazed when
Marilyn told me that this was the surname of my great-great-great-grandmother,
and that the Worthingtons came from Colchester, CT.
It took a young woman a thousand miles away to answer that question for the first time in my life!”
(Man in his late 80s, Florida)
“We all wish we had asked our grandparents things before they died!
I never thought to ask my grandfather where his name (Ennis Champ Warrick) came from.
Marilyn found that he was the owner of a farm in Kentucky where my gr-great grandfather, Anderson Bridges, a former slave, worked. Marilyn has since connected me with other descendants of this line who tell me that the family stories passed down to them were of Anderson Bridges and his wife Minerva Brooks being slaves on adjacent farm to the Warricks. Apparently, Ennis Champ allowed his slave Anderson Bridges to work for him to earn money to buy his own freedom! He was listed as a free black man in Kentucky in 1850. Not typical for the time period! Last weekend I drove three hours
to visit the grave of Ennis Champ, my grandfather’s namesake.
Marilyn also found the emancipation papers of my great-great grandfather, William Warrick,
in 1840, in Virginia. In this time period, only 3% of blacks were freemen.
It’s given me great peace and pride to know more about my African-American heritage.”
(MD, 50s, Indianapolis, IN)
“I am amazed at all you have done ….! I am savoring every word.
This is amazing and an answer to my dreams! I would love to travel to Germany and meet some of my cousins and even visit the area(s) where my ancestors came from!”
(Man 60s, Huntsville, AL)
“I can’t tell you how excited and thrilled I am to finally know what happened
to the grandmother I never knew!!!
My mother and aunt were given up for adoption in 1922, and they are now 83 and 85. They finally have some comfort in knowing more about the woman who gave them life! Now we know where she later lived
and where she is buried. I have some new cousins out there! It’s very exciting!
Marilyn was able to find one of the step-granddaughters, and I was finally able to talk with “new” cousins last week! We’ve agreed to share stories and I can’t wait to see the scanned photos she said she would send. This will give my mother and aunt some well-deserved comfort in their lives.
This is truly a wonderful gift, and I am very grateful!
(Woman 50s, Lakeland, FL)
“You made my day!”
(Man, 70s, Lake Forest, IL)
NOTE (above) from a man who requested assistance in getting information on the family of a long-lost cousin who died in 1974. Discovering within 24 hours that not only is this man’s widow still alive (in her 90s), but that she is, by some absolutely incredible chance, my neighbor, just three houses away! So I walked over with the family papers and we called him immediately!
“Thank you so very much!! You’re instructions as to what to do next on my genealogy gave me the information I needed to find my Scottish ancestry. My husband and I are now planning a trip and will stay in a B&B owned by descendants of a family my gr-grandmother worked for in the 1870s. I never knew this until I started down this “family journey!” AND, the original family home
where she worked is one mile down the road!!! We’ve been invited to visit. They (owners of both houses) were so excited about the story of the connection between our two families, and have shared more information with me! I’ve shared pictures of the broach that was given by one of the estate owners
to my GG- grandmother on his wedding date – a gift by the landholder to his staff!
(Retired Woman, late 50s, Northern Virginia)
“You mean we’re known these people in our town for 30 years, and
worked together on a couple of projects, but you’re trying to tell me that we’re actually related??
Well I’ll be! That’s just a hoot!”
(Couple in their 40s, northern NJ)
NOTE: And the phone lines were a-ringing all day after that . . .!
“My grandmother always told these stories about her youth and her own mother who was personal friends with Abraham Lincoln and heard the Lincoln-Douglas debates from her window. I was fascinated, but always thought there probably wasn’t much truth in that account. Well, Marilyn not only found out that she lived in Quincy, Illinois, but that the Lincoln-Douglas debates were in Washington Park, which was just across the street from the Quincy House, a large, historic hotel, which was operated by her father, and where she lived! So, the family stories are probably true! I’m just thrilled to see the newspaper accounts of my grandmother and great-grandmother’s weddings from the newspapers, and learn more about their lives through Marilyn’s research.
This has been a wonderful experience!”
(Writer, author, 60s, northern Virginia)
“Marilyn not only found my husband’s military birthfather, she found him within days.”
He wasn’t exactly thrilled at the first contact, but is warming up to the idea of getting together
and meeting his son and family for the first time. We are so very happy.”
(Couple, 30s, Rhode Island)
“I wish you provided services here in the Philippines! We are so grateful you found
our adopted son’s father in the U.S., who fathered a child while on duty here 25 year ago.
Now, if we could only find his mother ….”
(Attorney, 50s, Manila)
“Thank you, thank you, for finding my biological father. I now have four younger half brothers
and sisters in Pennsylvania. My young sons and I flew east to meet them for the first time
and were so warmly welcomed by them. You’ve answered so many questions for me.
I can’t tell you how much this means to all of us. Thank you so very, very much!”
(Woman, 20s, Sitka, Alaska)
“I’m an only child and told Marilyn I wanted to know about my heritage because I didn’t have much family. Not only did she trace my father’s family back into Coventry, England about 1800,
she found the little town in Germany where my grandmother came from as well.
In addition, she found all sorts of living cousins, so now I have more family than I ever dreamed!
We’ve since been to New Jersey to visit many of them, which has been truly wonderful.
My wife and I have really enjoyed this “journey” into the past!
(Technical Communications Specialist, 60s, Virginia)
“I couldn’t believe that Marilyn found descendants of my grandmother’s family in Ontario and then Saskatchewan, including living relatives both there and in the United States. It’s just been such a thrill to share family stories and pictures and between us, we’re filling in all the blanks.
It’s been truly amazing, since we now have relatives on three continents.”
(Woman, 50s, Southern Australia)
“You’re doing an incredible job! Thank you so much for helping my wife and I visit my great-grandparents home town in Minnesota and North Dakota. With your help we
were able to easily find the cemeteries and place flowers on the graves. And, because you
did all the prep for the trip, I got to meet a man who now farms the lands where my
great-grandfather farmed 100 years ago. What a thrill to walk the lands and find the original
house foundation and to meet with locals [at the town diner] who well remember
my great aunt and uncle. Thank you so very much!
I’m also looking forward to talking to the newly-found German relatives as well.
Cannot wait! This is all very exciting. Thanks, dear!”
(78-year old business owner, Decatur, Illinois)
“Yes, you’ve reached the right Lewis family. You mean my mother has living cousins on the east coast and that my sisters and I have second cousins? This is very exciting!!!
And, you mean to tell me there’s a Castle in our heritage? Wow, that's a real Bonus!!
We can’t wait to learn more about her family and this Scottish heritage!”
(Woman, 40s, California)
“How on earth did you find me? [Wife of a William Smith]
Yes, I remember my husband’s mother’s family!
I have five children who would love to meet their new cousins. This is just wonderful!
(Woman 91, Massachusetts)